“I taught myself by learning from my mistakes and the mistakes of others.” – David Sanders
“He who learns from his own mistakes is smart; he who learns from others’ mistakes is wise.” – Anonymous
David Sanders grew up in poverty, surrounded by drug dealers and users. His only exposure to nature was a “woods” composed of a few trees, plenty of rubbish and worn rubber tires. A bright spot in his childhood was attending the local Boys and Girls Club. When they offered him the opportunity to attend Camp Joy, it was a time of many firsts: fishing, canoeing, and hiking in some really beautiful woods! He credits his enthusiasm for nature and hiking to his Joy experience.
David fondly remembers his camp counselor and how he loved Joy’s food. He got to relish Joy’s food again when he and his daughters attended Joy’s 2015 Harvest Fest. “I wanted to explore the woods – the girls voted for the games,” he joked. “We’ll hike next time; I want them to learn to love nature like I did at Joy.”
When he was 16 and a 26 year-old drug user asked him to borrow money for food, he realized he didn’t want to be in that boat ten years later. He learned from that man’s mistakes and vowed to earn money in an honest way. David looked for ways to serve in his neighborhood. He shoveled snow and carried groceries for the elderly, never asking for a cent. Impressed by his initiative, seniors offered encouragement and money when able. One gentleman bought David a three-year membership at the Y. His senior year in high school he worked all night at an overnight parking garage.
David had some rough patches growing up and he admits he had his share of being in trouble. He learned from those mistakes. Spending a few years in the Air Force after high school prevented him from going down the wrong path.
And there were angels along the way – a friend introduced David to his uncle, an assistant college football coach, who in turn, brought David to the head coach’s attention. Due to the head coach’s interest and his own determination, David was able to attend, work his way through, and graduate successfully from Mt. St. Joe.
He remembers writing a paper in high school about his desire to be a Boys and Girls Club staff member. David wanted to be a male who listened to and guided kids who were growing up like he had. Little did he know how prophetic that paper was…David is now the Director of Findlay Street Boys and Girls Club. “It is so rewarding for me,” David shared. And it is readily apparent how much the kids love and respect him.
He is grateful to the Boys and Girls Club and Camp Joy – for exposing him to possibilities of a different way of life – when he was a child. And he’s paying it forward to the kids’ whose lives he touches daily. David Sanders is not only generous and loving; he is smart…and especially wise.